There are moments when I just have to sit down and process all that is happening in me and at the Ranch. There are so many thoughts, so many emotions swirling through my heart and mind that I have to carve out time to look at what it is that I’m truly experiencing and feeling.
I started off the year at a high because, together with our amazing Champions, we raised $40,000 in 8 weeks to build a barn for Bright Side. It was a season of connecting with dear ones, having meaningful conversations, praying over our Champions, and thanking and praising God for all He was accomplishing. I can barely put into words what those days and months were like. They brought life, joy, momentum, and excitement.
And, then the in-between season hit. In the real, physical sense, it was the time of year when it’s not quite winter anymore but it’s not quite spring yet. It was the time of year when it’s freezing cold one moment and blazing hot the next. In the emotional sense, for me, it was a season of waiting and wondering and preparing. We had raised the funds for the barn, but the weather was too rainy and the ground was too wet to create the pad to build upon. We were training new mentors and gearing up horses for a new session season, but the start was delayed because of the weather. We had just raised $40,000 in 8 weeks, but we were wondering if we’d have enough funds each month to take care of the horses and keep things running. It was far too easy for me to allow the few delays and a dry financial season to invade my outlook and attitude.
I even began to question God’s faithfulness at times. In my head I completely understood how ridiculous that was. I mean, God has proven over and over and over again how amazingly faithful He is. He’s provided miracle after miracle to make this Ranch happen and bring people and resources together. He’s shaping me and molding me into who He needs me to be, and He has always done so with a tender, loving hand. Yet, my heart felt so differently. I was doubting He would show up again. It’s times like that where a piece of an old hymn rings through my heart: “Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
So, I kept praying. I prayed at first for miracles and for His timing to match my own. Then, slowly (very slowly), my prayers started to change. I came to a point where I realized I was asking for a miracle in a grandiose form when He was offering small mercies everyday.
As I was waiting for the rain to stop so we could build, the pastures were growing lush, green grass. As I was training new mentors and getting to know their stories, I saw how God could use broken pasts to heal present hurts. As I wondered anxiously about funds each month, I saw that cutting back to what really matters was a good reminder of stewardship.
Then, as my heart changed to be more in line with His, and I put forth effort to see how He was always at work and is still at work, my attitude and outlook changed too. And, the ground dried long enough to pile up dirt for a pad for the barn. Sessions started with mentors and horses ready to go. And, there were some surprising, generous gifts that helped us get hay and feed.
Someone recently asked me: “What does Bright Side Youth Ranch mean to you?” For me, it means so many things that I have trouble narrowing it down. It’s the way God has stretched me and taught me and revealed so much of His character to me. It’s where I’ve learned to be a leader even when it’s hard or I don’t want to be. It’s where I’ve had to lean on Devin as we lean on Jesus together. It’s where we’ve met (and continue to meet) amazing people who have given their time, talents, and treasures or who have shared their children and families with us. It’s where I’ve seen God speak boldly and loudly through astounding miracles and where He’s whispered tenderly and quietly through sweet moments only He could bring about. It’s where I’ve learned that this dream wasn’t mine to begin with and isn’t just for me or my family. It’s where it is a starting point for other dreamers too. It’s where I get to see others connect with Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him.
For me, it’s a dream come true. A dream that I thought was just mine and just for me. A dream that I now know was His in the first place that He allowed me to dream with Him. A dream He wants to be offered to others so that they can dream with Him too.
It’s a dream that’s bigger than this little dreamer. And I couldn’t be more satisfied in that.